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J Immunol Methods. 2012 Aug 31;382(1-2):1-23. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2012.05.014. Epub 2012 May 30.

Cancer therapy and vaccination.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.


Cancer remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide, both in developed and in developing nations. It may affect people at all ages, even fetuses, but the risk for most varieties increases with age. Current therapeutic approaches which include surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are associated with adverse side effects arising from lack of specificity for tumors. The goal of any therapeutic strategy is to impact on the target tumor cells with limited detrimental effect to normal cell function. Immunotherapy is cancer specific and can target the disease with minimal impact on normal tissues. Cancer vaccines are capable of generating an active tumor-specific immune response and serve as an ideal treatment due to their specificity for tumor cells and long lasting immunological memory that may safeguard against recurrences. Cancer vaccines are designed to either prevent (prophylactic) or treat established cancer (therapeutic). Identification of tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) and tumor-specific antigens (TSAs) has led to increased efforts to develop vaccination strategies. Vaccines may be composed of whole cells or cell extracts, genetically modified tumor cells to express costimulatory molecules, dendritic cells (DCs) loaded with TAAs, immunization with soluble proteins or synthetic peptides, recombinant viruses or bacteria encoding tumor-associated antigens, and plasmid DNA encoding TSAs or TAAs in conjunction with appropriate immunomodulators. All of these antitumor vaccination approaches aim to induce specific immunological responses and localized to TAAs, destroying tumor cells alone and leaving the vast majority of other healthy cells of the body untouched.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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